The exhibition at Haunch of Venison focuses on her photographic works from 1967 onwards – many being shown for the first time in public. One of Holt’s central concerns is the experience of vision - how we perceive the world in relation to time and place. Addressing this concern, photography is a key component of her practice - the camera becomes Holt’s prosthetic eye, allowing her to document her work whilst recording the act of documentation.
The largest work in the exhibition 'Western Graveyards', reveals the artist’s emotional engagement with place as a means of finding beauty in degradation. The scale of the investigation reflects the profoundity of the impact that the landscape had on Holt – in particular the contrast between the vastness of the landscape and the enclosure and finality of each gravestone.
The exhibition includes Holt’s iconic work 'Sunlight in Sun Tunnels', where Holt uses a tunnel as a machine for perception through which she photographs the view every half hour. The work juxtaposes the ever-presence of the Sun with the ephemeral nature of time, reflecting Holt’s perception of the Sun as a celestial body, as well as her interest in exploring our relationship with the forces of nature – she is determined to ‘bring the sky down to Earth.’
The theme of time passing extends beyond the work’s medium and content and into the format of the works in the gallery space. Holt builds a composition from a number of separate images to create a complex whole, triggering the construction of experience in a time and space unique to the viewer. Through rejecting the single image as a definitive view, she enables herself to more closely represent her experiences.
Famous for her site-specific installations and iconic sculpture, Holt continues to explore new ways of thinking by going beyond any established notions of what an artist does. The viewer is invited to appreciate the world through her ‘prosthetic eye’, as she transforms looking and seeing into conscious acts.
Words: Sarah Elizabeth Osborne